Archive for September 5th, 2018

September 5, 2018

Some news from France CXCVIIII

Well it has been a while not given you my latest on my belle France. Of course, was on vacations, long ones, and they finish today …tomorrow back to work yikes! It is hard after you taste the French long vacation of 3 weeks to return to work, but we need to keep traveling ::)

Here are some of the tidbits I gathered lately.  Stay seated.ok

The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in the Alpes-Maritime department  06 was the discovery of the Riviera by the Baronne Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in 1905. It was built on the narrow side of the island or presqu’île de Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat in the Italian Renaissance style. In 7 years of work done by 5 different architects. The interior has rose marble of Verona and the Chinese salon in wood designs copying the imperial palace in Pekin; as well as guarding about 7000 works of arts. All surrounded by nine theme gardens making them look like a flower museum.  And my dear late wife Martine, when I met her in Paris worked for the designer company that renovated this villa in 1990-91.!! The office is now gone but it was Kapa Promotions! in the rue d’Hauteville 10éme of Paris.  And now you can visit the villa, well already since a few years. the webpage: Villa Ephrussi

You know there is a very nice and old lighthouse call Cordouan, the royal flashlight in the Gironde department 33. It is actually in the Atlantic Ocean at the entrance to the estatuary of the Gironde ,nd many times call the Versailles of the Seas. It was built in the 17C at 7 km from the coast. All began in 1584 to build one to bring security to the entrance to the harbor; the lighthouse is finally done in 1611.  Done in the Renaissance style with stone from Saintonge and doric columns with corinthians pillars enclosed the apartment of the King LMT written in honor of Louis XIV and Maria Teresa. There is a Chapel with clear stained glass, a room and a nice turning stairs of 311 steps. The lighthouse has been improved with new glasses that can see 40 km into the sea. You can reach the lighthouse of Cordouan by boat from the ports of Meschers-sur-Gironde, Royan, and Verdon-sur-Mer. More info here; Phare de Cordouan

If you come to the harbor at Rocheport, you can see the base of the Hermione boat. This is an identical reconstruction of the boat that took the Marquis de La Fayette to the USA to join and help along in the US War of Independance from Great Britain.  It took 5 years to built it starting from a model at 1/18 scale!  The real boat you will see is 44,2 meters long, 11,21 meters wide, 5,74 meters deep. Anecdote, in 1778 it took several workers only 11 months to built the original, while this one took 18 years! Once in the water it already has done 350 trips with the inaugural trip to the USA in 2015. See it at the Place Amiral-Dupont, Rocheport in department 17 Charente Maritime. More info: Official Hermione web page

Closer to Paris, we have a very nice garden often overlook by visitors ,the Jardins Albert Kahn in Hauts-de-Seine dept 92 just across from the Seine river. This banker tried to change the world by way of nature and especially all around Japan. He built a village japanese style with two houses ,the minka, a pagoda, a shinto temple, and two symbolic gates around marshes and a prairie reminding us of a golden forest and a Vosgienne forest to remind himself of his origins, born in Marmoutier Bas Rhin dept 67 near the forest of Abreschviller.  The garden is at 10 rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, even if now closed for renovations see it for later , it is worth the detour. More info : Jardins Albert Kahn

I continue my tour of my belle France by going south to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept 64 and the Castle of Abbadia facing the ocean on the point of Sainte Anne near Hendaye. This neo gothic folly the work of Viollet-le-Duc built between 1864 and 1879 for the adventurer sage Antoine d’Abbadie. Celebrating the study , the observation, and the spirituality/ there is a building which seen from the exterior shows towers, and a fortress look like an Irish mansion or even Basque.. He was born in Dublin and here it shows all his exotic trips , as well as been buried in the Chapel crypt. The whole property was bequested to the Academy of Sciences. It can be visit of course on the Route de la Corniche, Hendaye, more info here: Château d’Abbadia

And I bring you up again, this time to my beloved Versailles oh Versailles, royal and beautiful, my Versailles of 10 years and good memories. I wrote an article on the Hameau de la Reine or Queen’s hamlet. It was in 1783, the queen Marie Antoinette ordered built this hamlet on the north side of the Trianon gardens. It went thru lots of viscitudes due to the French revolution until Napoleon Ier restored it to gifted to his wife Marie-Louise of Austria, the great grandaughter of Marie Antoinette!!!  Now officially you go by the Place d’Armes and get in to the domaine of Versailles popularly call the Chateau. But if you want to go the local way like I did to jog with my family there is for you to take bus 19 at ave Saint Cloud and ave de l’Europe corner direction Les Mureaux and get off at Parly II stop next to the Arboretum (old trees once belonging to the castle now museum forest thingy), you walk down ave de Versailles for about 300 meters and on your right there is the monumental Porte de Saint Antoine, gate you go in and just a few meters on your right is the hamlet of the Queen. voilà a nice way to go about local.

And from the classic to the hard work of the miners, you go further up to dept Nord 59 and see Lewarde at rue d’Erchin you will see the miners historical center or Centre Historique Minier where on the old well of Delloye between Valenciennes, Bruay ,and Douai you will see this earthly wonder. The carbon extraction of 3 centuries was done here and the building are all preserved, even the bells in metal, and the railroad equipment. This museum allows you to descend to the center of the earth sort of to the mine in an elevator/lift going 9 meters per second. Below you see rebuilt galleries tunnels to see up close what the miners went thru.  Interesting, yes. more info here: Lewarde Mining Museum

And now down south east to another memorable area of mine as it was my dear late wife Martine dept 77 Seine-et-Marne. And to add her dear late Grandma Fourré worked here and I got to meet her and travel with her, good wine drinker and love the speed driving !! I knew was in the right kind of family !!! I am telling you about the Menier chocolates of France at 7 boulevard Pierre-Carle, Noisiel, now own by Nestlé.  This is known here as the Cathedral of Chocolates on the banks of the Marne river, the Menier family built the empire. All back to 1825 not only for the chocolate per se but because it had theraupetic virtues.  By 1893, Menier is the biggest producer in the world! The windmill symbol of the brand was built in 1871.  The new building done in 1906 was built by Stephen Sauvestre a collaborator of Gustave Eiffel. There is also, the freezer built in 1884 and modeled after the Baltard covered markets or halles. All a jewel to visit , not to missed to see something uniquely French while in France. It is open to the public two saturdays per month inquire and more info here on the city of Noisiel page: Noisiel Menier hours and guides

Have you heard where the French President lives? and govern from there? Well the Palais de l’Elysées it is. It was begun in 1718 when the Count of Evreux, Henri Louis de la Tour d’Auvergne purchases some lots on the site called Les Gourdes in the middle of the road of chemin du Roule. A small palace of classic architecture comes up with a great dance hall event in 1720.Many folks came to lived here such as in 1753, the Marquise de Pompadour not wanted in the court came here and so on until the French revolution. Here the palace is change into apartments Elysée National. By 1815, Napoléon Ier had his goodbye and in 1848 the nephew Napoléon III came to be the first President of the Republic in the Elysée Napoléon, and came into the domaine of the State to never return. After the end of the empire in 1873 all French presidents come to lived here except during the nazi occupation and a bit later of Paris 1940-46 when the palace was empty. It re took the honors thereafter until today. The beautiful Salle des fêtes is typical of the beauty of French palaces, it is here that the State dinners are held as well as great receptions and the swearing of the French President. The closest you can come here unless walking to it is by the metro stations Concorde and Champs-Elysées and also near the REC C Invalides which from all you need to make a walk, the closest is Concorde really. It is open sometimes on heritage days, more info on the palace here: Palais de l’Elysée

visits info on the paris tourist office in english: Tourist office of Paris on the Palais de l’Elysées

Continue with France and government that is ,how about the Senate building? Well the Palais du Luxembourg is it. When Marie de Médicis became widow she decided in 1611 to have built a palace in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés to enforce her authority. Inspired on the Palazzo Pitti of Florence where she grew up.  This palace took her down to her financial losses. Afterward, many owners came and go such as Gaston d’Orléans upon the death of his mother, later widow Duchess of Montpensier and Guise in 1660; which bequest it to Louis XIV in 1694. When the French revolution it became a prison! and later hosted the revolutionary Directoire in 1795. As time passes, the palace is adapted to the times and in 1830 during the July Monarchy it is added a hemicircle to sit the modern legislature of 380 member of the house of equals or chambre des pairs de France in 1836. By 1879 , the palace is given to the Senate of the French Republic. The beautiful library in the gallery that gives to the 23 ha of gardens was decorated by Eugéne Delacroix on the only dome of 7 meters that he worked for 5 years. Again you can visit on heritage days,upon request of a Senator or to see a seance debate on the floor on certain days. . More info here The Senate of France

As we are in government lane, why not talk about the house of representative or the National Assembly of France or Assamblée Nationale  Ahh this one is unique , right across from the Place de la Concorde, and sits on the Palace of Bourbon, ooops sacre bleu the site of the Bourbon royals!   The Palais Bourbon is the name commonly given to the building that houses the National Assembly, located on the Quai d’orsay in the 7éme arrondissement of Paris, in the strand of the Pont de Concorde and Place de la Concorde.  The Palais Bourbon was built by Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Nantes, the legitimized daughter of king Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, who had married Louis III of Bourbon-Condé, duke de Bourbonnais and 6th Prince of Condé.  The Palais Bourbon and the Hôtel de Lassay (current residence of the President of the National Assembly) were erected simultaneously, from 1722 to 1728, on land acquired by the Duchess of Bourbon in 1720 and which she ceded a part to her lover, the Marquis of Lassay.  Confiscated in 1791, the palace “before Bourbon” was nationalised. It houses in 1794 the future École Polytechnique before being assigned to the Council of Five Hundreds by decree in 1795. However, by the time they set up a room for them, the five hundred would not settle there until 1798. The Bourbon Palace will therefore be assigned to the second Chamber of Parliament under the various regimes: Council of the Five Hundred, legislative body, Chamber of Deputies, and National Assembly.  The Palais Bourbon welcomed, from 1798, all the lower chambers of the French parliaments, with the exception of a short period of 1871 to 1879 (period during which it sits in the hall of the wing of the Midi of the Castle of Versailles, following the insurrection of the commune of Paris) then after the Government and Parliament fled to Bordeaux and then to Vichy during WWII in 1940.  The Hall of Four-Columns ( Salle des Quatre-Colonnes) is with the Hall of the Lost,( Salle des Pas-Perdus) the place where journalists traditionally interview members. They cross it to go from meeting rooms to the Hemicycle by taking the liaison corridor which adjoins the Cour d’honneur and leads to the library. It owes its name to the four columns in it. It was not far from my work area in Paris, here is more of it on visiting on debates with advance reservation. Visit a seance at the Assamblée Nationale

And back into my old department of the Yvelines 78, we see another national jewel . The Chateau de Monte Cristo, the folly of Alexandre Dumas. On the hills of Montferrands near the old clinic my wife used to go for esthetics , Alexandre Dumas decided to built a castle. After the much succesful Trois Mousquetaires (three muskeeteers) and the Comte de Monte Cristo (count of monte cristo) in 1844 he got his wish. It is describe as a folly of the times of Louis XV but in the style of Louis XIII and with renaissance deco. Under the main door, you see the face of Dumas while the lines on the windows show you his literary pantheon. It is in beautiful Le Port Marly and more info here: Chateau de Monte Cristo

Les Cafés are big in Paris, a lieu of encounters stories and good cheers and they have gone and come over the years, and now coming up more than ever. I love the cafes, not a big meal just a snack, a good coffee and see the world go by in gorgeous Paris. The story goes back to Persia they tell me; where people met to drink the gahveh-khaneh (my persians friends who I have worked with  in Paris can correct me). The first in the West was at Belgrade in the 16C and then spread to Venice, Vienna, and then Paris.  The bistrot or bistro we know the legend that is was the Russian cossacks in Paris who yelled out bistro in 1814 for hurry up and the word stuck; however, it is a word coming from the dialect of the Poitevin (Poitiers) word bistraud that assigned the domestic help in cabarets or of the Nord of France, called Bistrouille a mixture of wine and coffee? you choice is as good as any.

It is often said, the Le Procope is the oldest café in the world, it was not popular then to drink coffee back in the 17C until the Italian Francesco Prosopio dei Coltelli arrive in Paris in 1670. In 1700, he came to open a cafe at rue Neuve des Fossés-Saint-Germain and he called it the Le Procope. The fame goes up with Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquiou and even Diderot come in. Benjamin Franklin comes in too to shuffle the first notes of the US Constitution. Later the revolutionaries Danton, Marat, Robespierre,Desmoulins (always liking the good life)  come in too. Later the romantics such as Alfred de Musset, George Sand, Théophile Gautier, and Marie Dorval write their legends here. Le Procope is still there with new names to come. More on it here: LE Procope

At Montmartre, the life goes on away from Paris. By 1860 the districts are done and artists come out to the hill. Coubert comes with his manners to the Cabaret de la Belle Poule, and later others joined him at the Brasserie des Martyrs, Cezanne or Degas. In pigalle, the Café de la Nouvelle Athénes you can cross with Renoir or Pisarro. The bohemians go to the Bateau Lavoir. It is the time of the birth of cabaret as the Chat Noir, Lapin Argile where Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde are frequent visitors. It is in these cafés that the new literary art is born and continues because Paris is eternal.

Those that are gone: Chat Noirs

Brasserie des Martyrs et LA Belle Poule

Cafe de la Nouvelle Athénes

Bateau Lavoir

And hardy one still open, Lapin Argile and one of my favorites too. Lapin Argile

And how about that wonderful castle domaine of Chantilly in the Oise dept 60 now Hauts France region.  The story of Anne, constable of Montmorency, Louis de Bourbon, (Grand Condé) ,and Duke of Aumale.  Property of Senlis as a medieval fortress it passes by heritage in 1484 to Guillaume de Montmorency, father of Anne, the future constable.  A long documented history of France follows , the short in 1830 the Duke of Bourbon father of the duke of Enghien who was shot by orders of Napoléon died without direct heirs; therefore he bequested it to his great nephew Henri of Orléans, Duke of Aumale and son of Louis-Philippe (past king of the French); the castle is destroyed during the French revolution and the Duke d’Aumale has it rebuilt to house his collections. Upon his death in 1886, he bequested it to the Institut de France where it is kept today. The gardens of 115 ha are the favorite of great gardener André Le Nôtre, and the collections are without proper value or no value is enough. The library alone has 60K books, 8K maps, and 80K letters. It has the celebrated kitchens of Vatel, the inventor of the cream of Chantilly! He killed himself because the food was not prepared not serve on time!  The stables are magnificent given over 150 presentations per year on the Grandes Ecuries or Big stables, just gorgeous. Just need to see is a must, I have blog post on it . More info from official page here: Domaine de Chantilly

There some thoughts for Fall coming up, and Paris is gorgeous but so is France. In fact, Ernest Hemingway wrote a book that was published after his death and became a cult book for millions , Paris est un fête or the A Movable Feast, talking about Paris. However, I always said (and read his books) that he did not travel enough, if he did ,he would have written a second book, France is a movable feast! Did you know that the city of Versailles did a survey and 98% of visitors to the city only see the Palace Museum! Quelle pietié  mon Dieu! Hoping I can convince to see more of my belle France.

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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